By  on October 25, 2007

NEW YORK — Friday is a big day for Pailin Nitibhon.

Nitibhon, a recent graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology here, has been chosen as the winner of Cosmogirl's second annual "Born to Lead" Design Search. As part of her winnings, she will display her first junior sportswear collection at Macy's Herald Square on Friday.

For the contest, Cosmogirl teamed up with FIT to find who they believe will be the next leader in fashion design. The contest was open to fashion and design seniors attending the school.

"Out of 125 graduate students, there are 125 different stories here, 125 different personalities and everyone has their own story to tell through their art," said Sass Brown, assistant professor of fashion design-apparel at FIT. "The 'Born to Lead' Design Search provides students with an extraordinary opportunity and I can't think of anything that would make them work even harder."

Nitibhon was chosen as this year's winner and has won a $10,000 grant from Macy's and a partnership with Necessary Objects by Ady Gluck-Frankel to produce a holiday apparel collection. The collection will be sold in about 20 Macy's East doors with the rest of the Necessary Objects merchandise, but Nitibhon's pieces will be labeled "Pailin Nitibhon for Necessary Objects." Additionally, Nitibhon will be recognized with a feature in Cosmogirl's December "Born to Lead" issue.

To help narrow down the contenders, FIT chose a select group of graduate students to take part in the search, which fell into four categories: sportswear, tailoring, current scene and knitwear. A panel of judges, which included Jacqueline Azria-Palombo, creative director at Cosmogirl; Oscar Blandi, hairstylist; Torkil Gudnason, photographer; Gluck-Frankel, president and creative director of Necessary Objects; Nicole Fischelis, vice president, fashion director for women's at Macy's East, and Russell Orlando, vice president, fashion director for juniors at Macy's East, selected four finalists. The finalists were interviewed by the judges at the Necessary Objects showroom in May. Nitibhon, a native of Short Hills, N.J., won based on what the judges said was her talent and enthusiasm to become a fashion designer. She worked with Gluck-Frankel over the summer to create her collection."One thing that Ady taught me was to design what I like to wear, since the customer for Necessary Objects is really like me," Nitibhon said. "In school, I often found it easy to get lost in my research and kind of forget who my customer is and some of my designs weren't very realistic in the end. I know now how important it is to have the customer in mind through the whole design process."

The result is a line of holiday party dresses, cropped jackets, pants and skirts. All together, Gluck-Frankel said they will ship 1,800 pieces from Nitibhon's line to Macy's East stores.

"This is really a great first break into the business," said Dena Stokes, vice president, general merchandise manager for juniors at Macy's East. "Many vendors work for years to get just a sliver of floor space, but we feel this is a great way to support new talent and offer something fresh in the junior department."

In September, Nitibhon accepted a job at Anthropologie as an assistant designer. She now lives in Philadelphia, where the retailer is based.

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